Paul Lear: Overcoming fear and diving into Adult Swim Squad


For people with limited swimming experience, the thought of joining a swimming group can be daunting. Paul Lear, AUT Millennium Gym member, understands that feeling first-hand. The keen runner had to put his apprehensions aside to follow the guidance of his running coach, who recommended Paul incorporate swimming into his regular fitness routine.

Paul is the first to admit that he’s more comfortable on the land than he is in the pool. It’s been just over a year since the 45 year-old television and film colourist jumped in for his first Adult Swim Squad session and it was not an easy decision to make. An internal battle with anxiety and fear almost stopped him from joining the class.

“I was actually really scared to join Adult Swim Squad, it took me a while,” Paul admits. “I didn’t think I could keep up and then one day I kind of just said, ‘Alright, I’m giving it a go.’” As often happens with new activities, the thought of trying the squad was far worse than the session itself. Just a few months after trying his first class, the father of two became a regular face in the squad.

Paul’s initial apprehension about joining the swimming group is not uncommon, with many people believing that squad swimming is only for those with years of experience. When asked what he thinks could be a primary barrier for people joining the class, Paul believes it often comes down to perception and a fear of being too slow. “There’s never any judgment on speed with this group,” says Paul. “I was never a competitive swimmer, so when I first joined I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, which seems a little silly now. There are so many different people and speeds. The coach does a great job of helping us all.”

Paul LearThe Adult Swim Squad is available to all members of the public and Paul attributes the social side of the sessions as a primary reason for coming back. With a core group regularly attending the squad, there’s never any shortage of chatter. “One of the things I like most about Adult Swim Squad is the group of people,” Paul emphasises. “I mean it’s a great workout as well, but I just want to come back and see the group, it’s such a cool community. You could be struggling along then someone will crack a joke and everyone perks up.”

Joining the squad has even helped Paul form a stronger connection with his 10 year-old daughter, who experienced similar feelings of apprehension when she moved up a swimming level. The pair bonded over their shared situation.  “When she was starting out in the new level she had some real bad days,” says Paul. “So Adult Swim Squad was good to improve that relationship, to know that there are bad days and that not everything works. You have bad swims and that’s okay.”

Paul has now been swimming in the Adult Swim Squad for over a year. When asked what advice he would give people interested in trying the squad, he replied, “It really doesn’t matter what level you are, there’s a lane for everyone. This squad isn’t to train us up like competitive swimmers, it’s about learning and getting better. That’s what I would tell people, just give it a go.”

To learn more about AUT Millennium Adult Swim Squad visit our website:

Alternatively, drop in to the National Aquatic Centre to chat with our coaches directly. Our team is always happy to talk!